RYA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Affiliated Clubs and Recognised Training Centres

Advice on preventative measures for club and centre activity, plus guidance on legal, financial and insurance support

Updated 14 May 2021: We will regularly update our guidance for clubs and centres; please keep an eye on the page below for further information.

We are continuing to monitor the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak carefully. Please be reassured that our primary concern is the health of our members, affiliated clubs, classes, recognised training centres (RTCs), instructors and volunteers. Our thoughts are with our entire network during these challenging and uncertain times.

The guidance below has been put together to assist clubs, classes and RTCs, and is consistent with advice from the UK Government. If you are operating overseas, you should follow advice from the government and public health authorities in that country in addition to the advice laid out below.

Preventative measures

The current measures to stop the virus spreading include:

  • HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
  • FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).

Current guidance for England 

On 22 February the Government published its roadmap setting out the principles for easing the current lockdown in England based on data not dates. The indicative, ‘no earlier than’ dates are contingent on the data and are subject to change. The roadmap is based on 4 steps, there will be at least 5 weeks between each step.

To help outline what the next steps mean for our sport, the RYA has developed a roadmap and FAQs for the return of recreational boating in England.

RYA recognised training centres and instructors should visit the Coronavirus hub on the Training Support Site for more information about carrying out RYA training activity in the UK, as well as temporary adjustments to the RYA Conditions of Recognition. 

Home Countries

The regulations in England, ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland differ, but are all aimed at controlling the virus. People in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK and read the more detailed guidance on the RYA Home Country web pages. 

Coronavirus Regulations

The Regulations enable the Government and devolved administrations to respond to the serious and imminent threat to public health which is posed by the incidence and spread of the virus.

While guidance sets out how Governments expect people should behave, the Regulations set out how people must behave and it is the Regulations (rather than the guidance) that may be enforced within the law.

Club and centre activity

Closure of non-essential businesses

If your premises has been closed for a period of time, the RYA Legal Team has prepared guidance on the likely impact of the closure of non-essential businesses, which includes advice on cash flow, refunds, insurance and customer engagement – amongst other concerns raised by clubs at this difficult time.

Legionella Disease

If, as is likely to be the case, the water facilities in your premises have remained unused and dormant during the Coronavirus lockdown period this can present potentially ideal conditions for legionella bacteria to thrive. Clubs and RTCs will need to consider this along with any remedial action necessary prior to re-opening facilities. To assist we have produced the following guidance: ‘COVID-19 Clubs and the control of Legionella’s Disease.

My club is due to hold its Annual General Meeting - can our meeting continue as normal?

The current Coronavirus pandemic raises potential governance issues, because face to face meetings should not be taking place at a time when it is obviously so very important for Clubs to be able to carry out essential business without delay. 

A Bill has now been passed into law by virtue of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 which enables qualifying bodies (including companies and Charitable Incorporated Organisations) to hold an AGM or other general meeting with more flexibility, notwithstanding the requirements laid out in the organisation’s governing documents.

To help your club (whether your Club is a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG), an Unincorporated Association, or a Charitable Organisation) decide on how to convene and hold meetings whilst ensuring compliance with the Coronavirus Act we have put together the following guidance: COVID-19 and Holding Club Meetings

** This has now been updated to reflect the changes to legislation brought about by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (Coronavirus) (Extension of the Relevant Period) Regulations 2020 which is applicable from 29 September 2020. These Regulations extend the “relevant period” with regard to meetings of companies and other bodies from 30 September 2020 to 30 March 2021, applicable in England. 

If you have any further queries or questions relating to forthcoming meetings, then please contact the Legal Team on 023 8060 4223 or email legal@rya.org.uk.

What measures do I legally need to implement to ensure fair access to facilities for members/customers?

As a service provider, association and/or employer you have a legal obligation to ensure the decisions you make in response to the Coronavirus do not directly or indirectly discriminate against employees, customers or members with protected characteristics. The Guidance, ‘COVID-19 and Discrimination’ looks at the relevant legislation and provides advice on how best to ensure compliance with it when drawing up COVID-19 policies.

Legal, financial and insurance support

What if a contract I have entered is unlikely to be performed?

Members of the RYA community are likely to have entered a range of contracts before the COVID-19 pandemic. From charter agreements, RYA courses to contracts for services the effect of the current situation is being felt across the boating community. The position is developing daily, with unprecedented government involvement. The RYA Legal Team has drafted guidance intended to provide a helpful starting point, but you may also need to seek independent legal advice.

Will financial support be available for my organisation in the UK?

Home Country Sports Councils in the UK understand how challenging and unprecedented this period may be, especially where events and fixtures are being postponed or cancelled. They are not however currently in a position to offer financial support to organisations affected. They are working to explore options should they be needed and will communicate further once those have been more fully discussed. 

Temporary VAT Reduction

If you are a club with an on-site cafe or restaurant which supplies food and/or non-alcoholic drinks either for consumption on your premises or for takeaway, then normally you are required to charge VAT at the standard rate of 20%. The temporary reduced rate means that when you make these supplies you will only need to charge 5%.

Where you are eligible you can retain the saving for the benefit of the club or you may choose to pass it or a proportion of it onto your members/guests etc.

The Government has announced that the business rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England and Wales will continue in its current form until the end of June. This will be followed by 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022.

You can find further information about what funding support is available for your business by visiting the Government's website.

Please note, unless stated otherwise all funds received via the grant schemes (detailed below) will be subject to tax.

Restart Grant Scheme

The Government will be providing Restart Grants for hospitality, leisure and gym businesses in England of up to £18,000 per premises to help with the cost of reopening. Another £425 million is also being provided to local authorities in England to put towards discretionary business grant funding.

Community Ownership Fund

The Government will create a new £150 million Community Ownership Fund. From the summer, community groups will be able to bid for up to £250,000 matched funding to help them to buy local assets to run as community-owned businesses. This fund applies primarily to hospitality business however, in exceptional cases up to £1 million of matched funding will be available to help establish a community-owned sports club or buy a sports ground at risk of loss from the community.

The £10 million Kick-starting Tourism Package

The £10 million Kick-starting Tourism Package will give small businesses in English tourist destinations grants of up to £5,000 to help them adapt their businesses following the Coronavirus pandemic. Businesses can use the funding to pay for specialist professional advice such as human resources, legal or financial expertise, to adopt new technology and online systems or to purchase new equipment. 100% of the money will come from government with no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.

The package is aimed at small businesses in tourist destinations in which case it could be meaningful to Recognised Training Centres who may have fallen through the gaps of Government support. It may also be beneficial to Affiliated Clubs, although most clubs are likely to have received a grant in which case they may not be eligible for this package. We will provide further information as it becomes available.

For a full break down of the range of financial support packages available to businesses in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, please click here. 

Businesses overseas should contact the relevant local government authorities to explore the possibility of financial support.

Additional Restrictions Grant

Designed for businesses that require further business support as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, this is distributed at the discretion of local authorities. All Local Authorities in England, (except those who have already accessed additional enhanced business support settlements, namely: Liverpool, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Warrington and Nottinghamshire) are eligible for funding under this scheme due to the widespread national restrictions that came into force on 5 November 2020.

Under the Additional Restrictions Grant, local authorities will receive a one off lump sum payment amounting to £20 per head in each eligible local authority when LCAL 3 or widespread national restrictions are imposed. Local authorities can use this funding for business support activities. This will primarily take the form of discretionary grants, but local authorities could also use this funding for wider business support activities.

Local Authorities are encouraged to develop discretionary grant schemes to help those businesses which – while not legally forced to close – are nonetheless severely impacted by the restrictions put in place to control the spread of Covid-19. This could include businesses which supply the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, or businesses in the events sector. 

Local Authorities may also choose to help businesses outside the business rates system, which are effectively forced to close. Clubs and Registered Training Centres which are not within the rating system should consider approaching their local authority to see what is available. 

Sport England - Return to Play Fund

Sport England have launched a new £16.5 million fund to give additional help to the sport and physical activity sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Return to Play Fund will support groups, clubs and organisations who’ve been impacted by restrictions brought in to tackle the disease, and is part of their overall response to the crisis that now includes more than £220m of government and National Lottery funding.

£10m – Return to Play: Small Grants

Sport England have launched a £10 million fund focussed on delivering grants of up to £10,000 that support clubs and community groups responding to the challenges of returning to play during the Coronavirus pandemic. The funding can be used for implementing changes which will help returning to sport easier, including:

  • Minor facility alterations
  • Service alterations
  • Operational alterations
  • Running costs

£5m – Return to Play: Community Asset Fund

This will provide grants ranging in value from £10,001 to £50,000. It’ll help local sports clubs and organisations to adapt and open important places and spaces that can help them welcome back their local community safely.

This will include helping groups, clubs and organisations address the challenges they’re facing by:

  • adapting how they use space and improving ventilation
  • converting existing space to meet social distancing requirements, such as additional changing space
  • making improvements to buildings or open spaces for temporary use to get more people active by using a vacant warehouse, shop or community centre.

£1.5m – Return to Play: Active Together

This crowdfunding initiative will help sports clubs and organisations set up their own campaigns to help sustain them through the crisis.

It’s a great alternative if they don’t meet the priority groups of the other parts of the Return to Play package, and they’ll match crowd funds of up to £10,000 to help cover the loss of income.

The partnership with Crowdfunder will also include advice, guidance and training to help create successful campaigns.

For further information on who can apply for funding and how successful applicants are selected, please visit the Sport England website.

Applications to the below funds have now closed:

  • Retail, hospitality and leisure sector Top-up Grant
  • Discretionary Fund
  • Bounce Back Loans
  • Top-up Grant Scheme (Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund)
  • CAF Resilience Fund
  • Local Restrictions Support Grant

You can find further information about applying for the new funding on GOV.UK.

What financial support is available for the self-employed?

The RYA is acutely aware of the hardship that the situation is presenting to those in the RYA network who work on a self-employed basis and has been working with other Sport National Governing Bodies and the Sport & Recreation Alliance to lobby Government.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 26 March 2020 a UK-wide scheme to financially support self-employed individuals affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. Details of the package are as follows:

  • A grant of up to £2,500 per month for the next 3 months calculated on 80% of average monthly trading profits over the last 3 years
  • The scheme is open to those with trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018/19 or an average trading profit of less than £50K in 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19. Half of the income in these periods must come from self-employment.
  • The grant will be paid direct to banks in one lump sum covering the 3 month period at the beginning of June. 

Unfortunately the package does not extend to individuals who have only recently become self-employed i.e. not able to file a tax return for 2018/2019. If you find yourself in that position, we would like to hear from you in order that we may assess the extent of the shortfall with a view to lobby Government.

The fourth grant for those who are self-employed, which covers the period from February to April, will continue to pay 80% of three months average trading profits and is capped at £7,500.

The Government has also announced that there will be a fifth and final grant covering May to September. You will be able to claim from late July if you are eligible for the fifth grant. The amount of the fifth grant will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.

The fifth grant will be worth:

  • 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more.
  • 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850, for those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%.

The grant covers anyone who has filed a tax return for the 2019-20 tax year.

Gaps in Support All Party Parliamentary Group

The Gaps in Support APPG are calling for evidence to understand and quantify how many people may have fallen through the gaps in Government financial support during the pandemic. Based on the findings from the inquiry the APPG will then make recommendations to Parliament.

The RYA will be submitting evidence to this inquiry and engaging directly with the MPs involved in the APPG however, the RYA would also like to encourage businesses, such as self-employed instructors, clubs and recognised training centres, that have not been eligible for support or who have received very limited support from the Government to also submit their own evidence to the Group.  

Currently there is no published closing date for submitting evidence. 

What support is available for charities?

The Chancellor has announced an extra £750 million funding for frontline charities, as part of the Coronavirus support. The package of funding is to ensure frontline charities can continue their vital work during the outbreak. Maritime charities have a huge impact – keeping people active, improving well-being, connecting people socially and helping people learn new skills – but not many will be providing frontline services during this time. Charities may benefit from the support already announced either by Government or by Sport England, which is outlined in these FAQs.

Gift Aid 

If your club is a registered charity or registered with HMRC as a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) and you have reduced or even suspended subscription fees during the period of lockdown under the current crisis, there may be an opportunity to claim Gift Aid on any payment by a member which exceeds the reduced subscription e.g. if their existing monthly standing orders continue, if it is invited/treated as a donation.  Where subs have been suspended altogether clubs could consider inviting members to make donations which could qualify for Gift Aid.  

Word of warning - Gift Aid is not available on payments for services a club provides e.g. boat storage/mooring fees.  

If you have events that have been cancelled e.g. an annual fund raising dinner as a result of the crisis for which you have already taken payment, rather than refund the entry fees, you could consider asking participants if they are willing to treat the fee as a donation and, if so, claim Gift Aid on that donation.  HMRC’s Guidance on this can be accessed here and whilst it refers to charities and not specifically to CASCs, we are advised that the CASC Unit in Bootle has confirmed that the concessionary treatment should apply equally to sports events organised by a charity or CASC.

It will be extremely important to ensure you have appropriate documentation providing an audit trail, ensuring your members/participants complete a Gift Aid Declaration. 

Who does the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme apply to?

The RYA Legal Team has drafted detailed guidance on Furlough Leave, which has been temporarily introduced by the Government during the Coronavirus pandemic to mean leave can be offered which keeps employees on the payroll without them working.

What is the Job Support Scheme and how will this affect the current Job Retention Scheme?

The Job Support Scheme, which was due to start on 01 November 2020, has been postponed as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021.

How do I find out what financial support is available for me or my organisation? 

The UK Government has announced a new 'support finder' tool to help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the Coronavirus Pandemic. The simple online questionnaire takes under a minute to complete and will signpost business owners and the self-employed to relevant Government financial information - find out more.

How do I find out what financial support is available for me or my organisation? 

The UK Government has announced a new 'support finder' tool to help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the Coronavirus Pandemic. The simple online questionnaire takes under a minute to complete and will signpost business owners and the self-employed to relevant Government financial information.

The RYA recognises that there will be individuals and organisations in our network that will not be eligible for these financial support packages and we are working with other Sport National Governing Bodies and the Sport & Recreation Alliance to lobby Government at this difficult time. If you find yourself in this position, please do get in touch with the RYA Legal Team so that we may assess the extent of the shortfall and continue to lobby Government on your behalf. 

How do we guard against the risks of trading whilst insolvent?

Clubs that have incorporated status e.g. companies limited by guarantee, must guard against the risks of trading whilst insolvent. In light of COVID-19 and the immediate cessation of operations, requests for refunds from members and continuing overheads, it may be easy for incorporated clubs to stray into wrongful trading territory.

The Government is aware that, in providing various financial packages to help organisations through the crisis, it may be encouraging incorporated organisations to effectively contravene wrongful trading provisions and will therefore be suspending the rules on wrongful trading. The RYA Legal Team has produced detailed guidance to help incorporated clubs understand their legal obligations and what the temporary suspension of the wrongful trading provisions may mean for them both now and when the suspension comes to an end.

**This guidance has been updated to reflect the changes to legislation brought about by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (Coronavirus) (Extension of the Relevant Period) Regulations 2020 which is applicable from 29 September 2020. These Regulations extend the “relevant period” with regard to the moratorium procedure set out in Part A1 of the Insolvency Act 1986 from 30 September 2020 to 30 March 2021 applicable in England. Part A1 of the Insolvency Act 1986 provides for a freestanding moratorium for eligible companies to facilitate their rescue from financial difficulty.

What will happen if due to a reduction in income my business is unable to cover the rent of our building?

Under the Coronavirus Act 2020 S.82/83 business tenancies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from a protection from forfeiture/re-entry as a result of non-payment of rent during the crisis. These provisions have been extended by the Government from the original end date of 30 June 2020 to 30 September 2020. This means that if you are unable to pay the rent during this period, your organisation will still be able to occupy the building and the landlord will not be permitted to take re-entry/forfeiture action during this time. As a commercial tenant you will still be liable for the rent and a payment plan should be agreed with your landlord.  For a more detailed guidance from the RYA Legal Team please click here

**This guidance has now been updated to reflect the changes to legislation brought about by the Business Tenancies (Protection from Forfeiture: Relevant Period) (Coronavirus) (England) Regulations 2020 and the Business Tenancies (Protection from Forfeiture: Relevant Period) (Coronavirus) (Wales) Regulations 2020 which extend the time period for the moratorium on forfeiture of commercial leases for non-payment of rent until 31 December 2020, applicable in England and Wales.

Can we access support for emergency budget planning?

In these unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances, the RYA is offering guidance and advice to Affiliated Clubs and Recognised Training Centres to assist with emergency financial planning. The financial planning club guidance includes advice on reviewing income and expenditure, how to utilise savings, plus ideas to help generate revenue. Clubs and training centres can also access a COVID-19 Financial Toolkit which has been created to support those working on emergency planning and budgeting processes.

Will our insurance cover consequential losses?

You may be covered against consequential losses in relation to Covid-19. Clubs and RTCs should check their policies and speak to their insurance provider. 

For Clubs/RTCs insured under the Gallagher RYA Combined Policy the following applies:

  • Cover only applies in respect of those clients who insure against Section 2 (Business Interruption) and cover Option A – Loss of Revenue (note that this is an optional cover section).
  • The policy provides an extension under Section 2 – Business Interruption in respect of Disease, Infestation and Defective Sanitation.
  • Insurers have taken the view that cover will only be provided under this section of the policy as a result of someone at a club or RTC having COVID-19 which results in the club/RTC having to close the premises on the direct order of the competent local authority. Insurers have stated that it is not the intention of the policy to provide cover for losses as a result of an order from local authority where there has not been an outbreak at the premises and where the request is precautionary.
  • Cover is provided to a maximum of 5% of the Loss of Revenue sum (Option A) insured or £25,000 - whichever is the lesser.

Insurers will handle each and every claim (where required) on a case by case basis – taking into account specific circumstances, it is therefore imperative you speak with your insurance provider.

We would encourage RYA affiliates to submit claims (assuming they have the relevant cover), and if insurers refuse to accept the claims, to escalate the claims through the insurers’ complaints procedure and potentially ultimately to the Insurance Ombudsman.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has provided guidance on business interruption insurance, which covers a business for loss of income during periods when they cannot carry out ‘business as usual’ due to damage caused by a specific set of perils specified in the policy.

Business Interruption Insurance Supreme Court Judgment

On 15 January 2021 the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) business interruption insurance test case and has found in favour of policyholders receiving payments from business interruption insurance policies. The RYA has yet to receive and read the details of judgement and cannot yet comment on the impact that the ruling may have for clubs and RTC policyholders.

Affected policyholders will, in due course, hear from their insurers with an update on their claims.

Following the Supreme Court decision in the FCA test case concerning non-damage business interruption insurance claims, the FCA has launched a Business Interruption Policy Checker and FAQs to help policyholders find out if their insurance policy may provide an indemnity for losses caused by the COVID-19 lockdown. The business interruption policy checker seeks to assist policyholders to determine whether their business interruption insurance provides an indemnity for coronavirus related losses. Policyholders will need their policy wording and schedule to check if their wording is the same or similar to a wording in the representative sample of the FCA test case. The FCA reminds users of the business interruption insurance policy checker that each claims needs to be considered on its own specific facts and policyholders are advised to check the extent and length of cover and what losses are included.

The RYA remain in dialogue with Gallagher as to implications of the Supreme Court decision in the FCA Test Case on clubs and RTCs, business interruption insurance policy and hope to be able to provide policyholders with an update soon.

You can learn more about the business interruption insurance test case on the FCA's website.

Should we review our Gallagher insurance programme?

During these unprecedented times, Gallagher recommends that existing clients review their current insurance programme in detail and has recommended ways in which policyholders can ease the burden of Insurance for affiliated clubs and RTCs. Gallagher are happy to consider and discuss the options available, please click here to read the full list of Gallagher’s recommendations

Please note, Gallagher have extended the standard exclusion of cover in respect of property which has been unoccupied for more than 45 consecutive days to 180 days during the current closure period.

For more information on RYA Combined Insurance, please contact the dedicated RYA team at Gallagher on 0800 062 2309 or by email via rya@ajg.com

Return to Boating resources

See links below for various guidance, resources, videos and forums about returning to boating.